It may be rushed through, controversial and contested but the Local Government (LG) system in Punjab is here to stay. The Punjab Local Government Act, 2019 passed through standing committees, special committees, the Punjab Assembly and received the Governor’s signature on the fourth of May – making it an unquestionable law of the land. Hence, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) may continue to oppose it politically and criticize it publically, but it cannot stand in the way of its inevitable implementation.

Yet that is exactly what Rana Sanaullah, a senior leader of the main opposition party, has alleged his fellow party members will do. Reacting to a statement by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan that the new LG system would bring about revolution in the province, Mr Sanaullah said that the “PML-N will stand firmly against this law” and that his party will “resist attempts” to change the LG system. Such pronouncements would have made perfect sense while the law was in Punjab Assembly – indicating the opposition’s resolve to oppose the motion – however now they border on illegality and obstruction of government.

The opposition suspects that the LG law was only passed to dismiss the incumbents who were elected under the previous government’s tenure; and that may well be a consideration in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) push to make it the main legislative agenda in the Punjab Assembly. However, PML-N’s prime opposition to the law has also been predicated on it maintaining the previous incumbents – the merits of the bill have not factored in the discussion as much as it is supposed to. As such, while this debate rages over who wants to unseat whom, the PML-N cannot take a stance that it is opposing the bill on principal matters.

Now that the die has been cast the PML-N needs to make its peace with it. This does not mean it has to drop its opposition to the bill; there will be chances to amend the clauses in the future and such a complicated system will obviously need some fine tuning. However, it must drop the notion that it might be able to practically and physically “resist” the law being implemented.

The opposition needs to shift its focus towards preparing for the coming LG elections. If it has the support it claims it does in the province, the party should be able to recoup the positions it lost when the system was change.